Rodnie and Bryan Whitlock completed this year’s Walking for Wellness - Everest Challenge all the way from Iceland!
The Edmund Hillary Retirement Village couple had been planning their momentous September trip for over a year and at first, when they heard Ryman’s 2023 event was scheduled at the same time, thought they would have to miss out.
“Then we realised we can do it from Iceland,” says Bryan, with the nature of the virtual challenge using the End to End app meaning the kilometres could be clocked up and entered from anywhere in the world.
In fact, figuring out how to use a selfie stick for the first time proved to be more of a challenge, but proved worthy of the effort in the end, with the couple capturing stunning images of the incredible scenery Iceland is renowned for.
Says Rodnie: “We went on a tour up into the Highlands where there was snow and craters and that was just outstanding.”
“Although once or twice we nearly got blown off the edge of a crater,” adds Bryan.
“I did get blown off. You saved me!” Rodnie laughs.
They described seeing the geothermal activity, volcanoes, hot springs, fjords and waterfalls as ‘wonderful, grand and overpowering’ but equally enjoyed meeting the Icelanders as just as memorable.
“I don’t think I have ever felt so excited and exhilarated in my life,” says Rodnie.
Some of the incredible mountains and waterfalls that Bryan and Rodnie encountered.
The couple have a keen love of travel and adventure, and have a particularly special connection to Nepal after travelling there both before and after the devastating 2015 earthquake.
They fell in love with the Nepalese people and, following the quake, Bryan went over on his own to offer his construction expertise to the friends they had got to know during their trip the year before.
The couple then fundraised to raise thousands more by putting on a special benefit concert at Highwic House using their considerable musical talents.
Returning in 2017, and seeing the force of Mother Nature up close and the damage that had been wreaked was very difficult emotionally at times, they said.
Awe-inspiring waterfalls and striking rock formations make Bryan appear as if he's in a movie or music video!
A great honour was when they were crowned with marigolds at Dashain, the Nepalese equivalent of Diwali by the family of their guide Ganesh, and remains a memory and experience they hold dear to their hearts.
Now, with the memory of their Iceland trip still fresh as they get back into the swing of things at the village, the Whitlocks are now planning their next big trip, this time to another favourite location of Sir Ed himself - Antarctica!
A year since they first moved in, the couple couldn’t be happier with their beautiful apartment in the Everest block, the friendships blossoming and all the activities available to take part in.
Says Rodnie: “Since we came to Edmund Hillary it’s like a completely new lease of life, like life number three. Something’s beginning, something’s starting all over again, and it’s a joy.”Exploring Iceland's geo-thermal landscape was a real highlight of the trip.
Check out this short film about the Whitlocks' amazing adventure below.